Africa’s trade with emerging markets is increasing. The 2021 Africa Agriculture Trade and Food Monitor (AATM) reports that countries in Africa and around the world put the lessons of the 2008 food crisis into practice by limiting food export restrictions in 2020. The reduction in food exportation helped maintain sustainability in Africa. But also led to a loss of market share as importers from Europe and other countries diverted their demand to emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. A decrease in the number of vessels importing and exporting from Africa results in overcrowding the few available vessels, delays at transshipment ports and an increase in freight rates. Covid 19 highlighted the vulnerabilities of the manual processes in the supply chain. Many companies shut down as a result of high dependence on manual labour. The quarantine led to a huge loss to companies who failed to tap into the innovative technologies available to them some cut corners by;
- Overstuffing containers: Due to the limited number of containers for shipment, some cargo owners resorted to overstuffing their containers to save cost and time. Overstuffing cargo leads to poor ventilation that causes damage to reefer cargo.
- Listening to bad advice: Newbies into the exportation business might get dragged into a web of lies and practices by old exporters who have larger bottom lines, huge profit margins and multitudes of lawyers to deny claims. Age-old practices of cutting corners would be detrimental to an exporter hoping to make a name for himself. Credibility and transparency are keywords that should be respected to gain customer loyalty.
- Economising when shipping perishable goods: Reefer goods require low BUT NOT freezing temperatures during shipment. To cut costs some exporters set the same average temperature for both perishable and non-perishable cargo. This will lead to cargo loss that is most often difficult to claim from shipping lines and marine insurers.
- Poor Packaging: Cargo must be pack not only to ease loading and unloading but to prevent damage to the cargo. Fruits and vegetables need adequate air supply to survive shipment and maintain shelf life, while frozen goods need to be stacked closely together to avoid bruising. Understanding the quality of packages used for different types of cargo is paramount in ensuring the cargo arrives safely.
The combination of these causes means loss of revenue for exporters, it also has a negative effect on customer satisfaction.
They have to improve the export environment. Given the low quality of transport infrastructure, high time costs to export and import, and a comparatively higher degree of corruption. Africans operating in regional and global markets need to consider overcoming these trade barriers by navigating the bottlenecks involved in shipping by anticipation.
Shippers should allocate appropriate time cut to cool to eliminate the barriers that might be encountered during shipment. Ensuring that fresh fruits and vegetables are stored in the right ventilated packages, avoiding overloading of containers, anticipating and filing shipping paperwork. And making sure all documents conform with the shipping authority would safeguard the quality of cargo by limiting the time spent at the port of loading before dispatch.
Digitization of processes is the watch word in ensuring that company policies and procedures are fine-tuned. The analogue method of manually ticking every single box is not only time consuming, but it is also ineffective. Inter and intradepartmental communication would be lengthy and cumbersome.
The Best Solution for Exporters
Optimiz provides a digitization solution for fruit exporters that ensures traceability from cut to cool, loading and shipping. By remotely inspecting cargo, files can easily be traced as they are stored in a single accessible location. Interested persons can always log on to the site and retrieve information easily in a pdf or word document.
Transparency is guaranteed as both the exporter and the importer have visibility of the quality of their cargo. Fraudulent claims are eliminated and a bond of good faith is established between the exporter and the importer.
The reduction in time that stems from the optimization of processes guarantees customer satisfaction. The quality of fruit and vegetables supplied in the market would improve. An increase in customer satisfaction leads to an automatic increase in bottom lines and profit margins of the exporters.